Hell or High Water shows us the virtues of old-fashioned filmmaking throughout, giving us full-embodied characters to actually care about in this solidly crafted film.
One of the richest and most rewarding films you’ll see all year. Hell or High Water is an extraordinary picture built on a small scale for movie buffs. Director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) takes us out to West Texas in this modern day western. Except, there’s no Eastwood buffoons whipping around their .44 Magnums nor is there a parade of gun slinging cowboys from Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. Instead, we get a smart and well-paced film following its notorious characters from beginning until end.
The phrase "come hell or high water" typically means, "do whatever needs to be done, no matter the circumstances". This is the case for the plot; we get a divorced dad (an excellent Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother (the devilish Ben Foster) resorting to desperate schemes of bank robbery in order to save their family's ranch. But this is no ordinary robbery; its well planned and thought out. Giving Texas Rangers Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham a run for their money to catch them. Bridges helms the films charisma, as he slings his cutthroat jokes one after another.
While, Birmingham quietly steals the movie as a biracial Native American/Mexican surviving the harsh chaos of a white man's world. During this film we see the beauty of a hopeful Americana through the exquisite shots and scenery. Mackenzie’s framework is slow and steady, giving the audience a painted portrait of the deep west. Mackenzie evokes us into his world of pathos, as we see the wonder of the horizon rise and fall during the tense circumstances.
In a world full of CGI junk, Hell or High Water is a crucial film in need of dying genres. A mirroring example of cops and robbers, Hell or High Water fully embodies its protagonist and antagonist making it one of the freshest films of 2016. It receives the highest of highs, 5 out of 5 stars. So go out and see this modern western masterpiece and soak every last frame in.
Hell or High Water is rated R (Restricted) For some strong violence, language throughout and brief sexuality.
Genius. Traitor. Hero. Snowden.
A thrilling fact-based filmed upheld on the shoulders of a tremendous Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Overall, Snowden is a decent biopic thriller on 2013's National Security Agency (NSA) illegal surveillance leak by the man himself Edward Snowden. Gordon-Levitt does an outstanding job at his Snowden incarnation and it was also good to see Oliver Stone (Platoon, Natural Born Killers and JFK) back in the director's chair. Those familiar with the story know that the film follows Edward Snowden, an American computer professional who leaked classified information from the NSA to The Guardian in June of 2013.
At times, Snowden is a little too safe in its direction and layout of the story; nevertheless, Stone still manages to make an absorbing biopic. His skills allow him to dig deeper beyond the scandal, laying out all of the facts in a honorable dramatization. The film really begins to soar thanks to the provocative performance from Gordon-Levitt. His voice alone is terrific and captures the pure essence of Snowden’s humanist. So after a four-year hiatus, Stone returns to the screen to deliver yet another American story.
Though without its flaws, Snowden will definitely get people thinking and talking about surveillance, privacy and the structure of our government. So call him what he is: a whistleblower, a hero or a traitor. Edward Snowden saw flaws in our government and presented them to our democracy. Stone saw those very flaws too, while also seeing Snowden’s gifted mind as he presented them onto the screen.
Snowden is rated R (Restricted). For language and some sexuality/nudity.
Morgan: An ‘Ex Machina’ Rehash
Morgan comes to the table claiming it’s a sci-fi whoazer, but instead it’s nothing more than a rehash of far greater sci-fi films.
The first time I saw a trailer for Morgan, instantly what came to mind was Ex Machina and sure enough I was right. Where Ex Machina thrilled audiences last summer, this time around Morgan foils. This star-studded cast consisting of Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Brian Cox, Toby Jones and Paul Giamatti failed to comprehend the lackluster source of material. The plot follows a corporate risk-management consultant who must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.
The only thing more robotic than the script in this movie is the acting. Which leads us to our final disappointment of the film and that’s the directing. First-timer Luke Scott fails deliver anything new to the table, while there are a handful of hand-to-hand actions sequences their unfortunately boggled down due to choppy editing. Far better sci-fi’s have helmed past Morgan, films like Blade Runner, Alien, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Metropolis and Ex Machina. In the end, just stick with the classics.
Morgan is rated R (Restricted). For brutal violence, and some language.
Well-acted (Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander) and elegantly shot, The Light Between Oceans will tug at your heartstrings from beginning until end.
Director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines) continues to craft his films with skill and beaut. The romantic period drama is written and directed by Cianfrance and is also based on the 2012 novel by M. L. Stedman. While, his most recent film does have its flaws, nevertheless, Fassbender and Vikander will capture your heart. Still, this is by far his most beautifully and profound film he has shot to-date. This melodrama layers stories within stories on the coast of Australia during the early 1920’s.
The story unveils to us a lighthouse keeper (a fantastic and grim Fassbender) and his wife (the beautiful and powerful Vikander) struggling to start a family. After two miscarriages, it seems hope is lost for the Sherbourne’s until one day when Tom (Fassbender) and Isabel (Vikander) spot a rowboat adrift and discover a helpless baby trapped inside. The father inside the rowboat is dead, but Isabel sees this opportunity as their silver lining to raise the child as their very own. Tom is hesitant and wants to report it, but Isabel convinces him if he does then they won’t be able to ever adopt the child. Emotions running high, Tom agrees and they name their baby Lucy.
Seasons pass and change, as Lucy grows older. The layering of stories beings when Tom realized that Lucy’s birth mother (a terrific Rachel Weisz) is still alive and searching for her. Tensions and heartbreaks begin to fall apart, as do all Cianfrance films. The beauty we see layered within this film is through the chemistry of the actors and their very own emotions that spark ours. The Light Between Oceans is one of the most visually dazzling films I’ve seen this year alone. The cinematography illustrates the vast allure of the ocean and coastline. Kudos to Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (Macbeth and True Detective) for capturing the breathtaking scenery of the Western Australia coastline throughout the film.
So will Tom and Isabel keep their secret hidden or will Hannah (Weisz) find out her child is still alive? There’s a whirlwind of emotions pouring through your blood as Isabel and Tom grapple with decisions. The scene that truly broken my heart was when Isabel broke down crying on the bed and yelling at Tom that Lucy is her daughter. Vikander nails the raw human emotion of this very scene and steals the show throughout. Flawed, thought provoking and elegantly crafted, The Light Between Oceans is a box of tissues waiting to be opened.
The Light Between Oceans is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For thematic material and some sexual content.
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